It can be daunting.
Point, spread, semi-spread, cutaway, button down, band, tab, club, wingtip... groan, the list goes on. What to wear? And when? With what?
All the combinations may seem bewildering but we are going to cut through all of that. Trends will continue to come and go but some fundamentals remain true. This guide will give you the heads-up, on that section of cloth, that holds your head up.
Fit & The Finger Rule
And you can't have the collar size adjusted. You buy it, you're stuck with it.
So, start with your neck - measure it and memorise it. Then, wearing a shirt with top button done up, you should be able to slide a finger in between the collar and your neck, maybe 2 at most. But not a fist.
Balance & ProportionWhatever style of collar you go for, there are some basic considerations with respect to proportion and balance that are worth understanding:
Face ShapeThe shape of the collar is important because it frames your face. If you have a long skinny face, balance it with a spread collar. Conversely, balance a round face with the narrower point collar. If you're somewhere in between, that's great, you can go either way.
|Round-faced Frank Underwood swears he'll stick with narrow point collars.|
A long-faced, long-necked Mr President meanwhile nails it with the tall spread.*
|Jeremy Piven gets the message|
Wide spread collar - Windsor knot
Collar Shapes & StylesThere is a bewildering assortment of collar shapes and styles to sit your sartorial head above, so to simplify we've split things up. Firstly by basic shape, and then we'll consider some style variations.
Basic ShapesPoint Collar
|Tom Ford - signature long point collar|
For a more striking look, a variation is the long point collar, a Tom Ford favorite.
balancing thin face with spread collar
The original spread collar is a British classic. More formal than the point, you'll be needing a wider, properly knotted tie and a well-cut suit. Remember to consider your proportions. Taller men with longer necks - go for a taller version of the spread. Our more diminutive dukes of style should scale things down accordingly.
|Gordon Gecko contrast spread = power|
|Andy Garcia - formal classic|
Exclusively used on tuxedo shirts, it is designed to allow more of your bowtie to be exposed. Weddings, very formal and special occasions only.
|Jude Law - Mandarin action|
Otherwise know as a Mandarin collar, it originated in southern Asia and generally is a slightly stiffer collar that is not folded over. While it's an option for formal occasions it's one we'd suggest a gentleman stay away from in day to day wear. Though Jude Law seems to get away with it.
|Button down - cool, preppy|
|David Gandy. Elle Style Awards. Pin Collar Shirt|
"At ‘Pin Collar Shirts’ we love the individualism, style and character of the Great British eccentric. Our mission is to bring back some of this individual style to the workplace, starting with our signature ‘Pin Collar Shirt’ range." - Carl Thompson, Founder PinCollarShirts.co.uk
|Bond - oozing confidence knowing the tabs will elevate his tie knot and keep his collars from flapping around.|
|Pin collar. And club collar.|
Best of both worlds from Pin Collar Shirts
Originating in Eton in the 19th century, the rounded club collar is cropping up more and more in designer collections.
It's less dressy than the point or spread, but not as casual as the button down.
Informal. Yet exclusive.
You're in the club.
Collar Tool Kit
|Elements of a collar tool kit - Exuvius collar stays and The Laundress Wash & Stain Bar|
Dos and Don'ts
- Thou shalt not pop thy collars. A turn down collar is to be turned down. No exception. Even polo shirts.
- If you need to wear a dress shirt with a jacket, but without a tie, go for one with a stiffer collar.
- If it's a button down shirt, button it down. No flapping. It won't make a statement. Other than "I'm lazy" or "I'm clueless".
- Pin and tab collar shirts - always with a tie.
- If your wearing a tie, tie it right. No point having the ideal collar if your tie is a shemozzle.
- If your collar is frayed or stained, do not wear the shirt.
- While it may be considered ok to wear a tie with a button down shirt - never with a double breasted jacket.
- Remember the fundamentals - balance and proportion.
So, that about sums up the essentials of your dress shirt collar. There is a lot to consider, we could go into crazy deeper detail about shapes and styles however if you stick to the basic rules outlined above of balance, proportion, and occasion you'll be ahead of the pack.
And don't forget, to easily find the shirts that are the right fit for your size, shape and style, check out www.sizemikk.com
* Kevin Spacey and Michael Gill play Frank Underwood and President Garrett in House of Cards. Catch it on Netflix